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Chocolate shop, Poitiers, France [Alamy image ref. B5A2Y6]

In high summer, and in good weather, the Claude Lafond Chocolatier establishment in the rue Lazare Carnot, Poitiers, will be fronted by crowded tables and chairs bordered with troughs of Geraniums to separate those taking tea and cakes or coffee from shoppers and sightseers in the traffic-free “zone piétonne” old quarter of the city. Those people who have come from near and afar will expect to choose from many delicacies prepared every day to amuse and satisfy every palette.

Established since 1957 in the historical centre of Poitiers, the family-run establishment perpetuates the tradition of beautiful selections of desserts, small cakes and chocolates. Together with a staff of more than 50 in other premises around the town, the organisation serves around 1,000 receptions and seminars a year catering for more than 150,000 people.

The shop and café must be well-know further afield too because this image was licensed by a Japanese TV company for use for one year on a programme. The is also much else to see and photograph in Poitiers… but because of my personal situation I have only been able to make two trips there despite that city being only an hour’s drive away. But there and back with a couple of hours shooting amounts to half a day away from my paralyzed wife whom I – being her sole carer for a couple of decades – normally have to return to after a couple of hours away. However, from those two trips I selected 84 images for Alamy… from the 1,456 images with the “Poitiers” tag currently with that agency.

One day I would like to get to “Futuroscope” for some extra stock coverage because there are only 129 images on Alamy with “Futuroscope, Poitiers” as the subject including 5 “RF” of which four have people in them (spot check necessary Alamy… Futuroscope is private property and also recognizable faces of strangers cannot be RF)! The big problem I have with a designated location to visit though is not usually one of time, but one of distractions! On my first visit to Poitiers I must have stopped half a dozen times to photograph churches, bridges, market squares and random signs… all of which doubled the 1-hour journey time there. On my second trip I stayed more focused on the road ahead… but it was difficult not to stop on many occasions.

This shot – which I waited for specifically so as to not include people – was taken at the wide end of my 14-24mm Nikkor zoom… the exotic optics holding contrast well despite the various rays of sunlight bouncing around the scene from random windows.

The RM image was licensed by Alamy for unlimited transmissions in an editorial programme (not for advertising) for 1-year by a Japanese TV company under my “a la France” pseudonym.

D-I-Y Shop glue display, UK. [Alamy image ref. B64JBP]

For years I never went into a supermarket to shop… always preferring to support local traders for everything from salads to sandpaper. When I did start to venture into the aircraft-hanger sized operations in the early 1980s I was lost… the choice and range of goods being so huge compared to the local village corner shop. I must have been impressed, though, because amongst the more than 25,000 35mm colour transparencies I ended up with when I gave up film and went digital were a few dozen shots of lines, racks and arrays of assorted products on supermarket shelves.

Of those 25,000 trannies – probably resulting from more than 1,000 films (including immediate rejects) hand-processed four at a time on a Jobo CPE-2 processor in E-6 chemicals – I eventually scanned about 1,500 frames on a Nikon Coolscan V for eventual uploading to Alamy. The rest have been largely junked… too much duplication… too much dust… too much grain… too much colour degradation… digital seems so much easier nowadays despite the amount of time I spend correcting and manipulating files in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop!

However, of the 35mm transparencies I have scanned, a surprising number have started to sell and continue to be zoomed regularly… although that may be because the subject matter is obviously more than a decade or three in age and the “vintage” look could be what the researchers are looking for… who knows!

This shot, for example, was taken in a superstore in Swindon, Wiltshire around 1982 and may have been chosen because the trade names, or packaging designs, have changed enough so as not to promote specific current products in the textbook the image was licensed for, for a period of ten years.

Just after this sale came through, I started to shoot supermarket shelves with much more interest… and in one French supermarket in the next town counted 44 different boxes of breakfast cereals… that’s 54 different types, not 44 boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes! At first I only took my fast standard lens for the generally less-than-daylight lighting arrangements… but now I only go armed with a wide-angle lens to get as much as possible into the frame.

Licensed as Rights Managed by Alamy for up to a 1-page reproduction in a textbook with a 100,000 print-run under my “Fabricate” pseudonym – which includes all building and D-I-Y materials, work and sites, interior and exterior, private and public.

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